Though Bangladesh has been open to global and local improvement initiatives and has actively participated and helped them, the government is now under pressure to allow trade unions in factories inside and outside the ‘Export Processing Zones’. The body of European buyers Accord has unilaterally increased the tenure of its function in Bangladesh. Meanwhile Alliance has informed they have no intention to stay further after the end of its current term by 2018.
Recently the Foreign Trade Association (FTA) based in Brussels, issued a letter to Bangladesh urging the country to cooperate with international bodies such as the European Union (EU) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to resolving the outstanding labor problems in textile sector more specifically in RMG sector.
Faruque Hasan, Senior Vice President, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturer & Export Association (BGMEA) and Managing Director of Giant Group says Accord can’t impose their unethical decision on a sovereign country. On the other hand the EU has warned Bangladesh they might risk losing trade performances granted under the EU’s Everything But Arms initiative if it did not address standing issues. It has increasingly pressure on Bangladesh to do more to align national laws and practice ILO recommendations. Many others urged for an effective initiative to be led by Bangladesh government as if the country has its own control on its industry. Recently BGMEA drafted the outline of such a platform called ‘Shonman’ (respect). The platform will be run by the Prime Minister’s office. Its steering committee will comprise representatives from BGMEA, BKMEA, ILO, brands, trade unions and corresponding ministries. Insiders expect that an effective platform would take charge of all regulations and requirements and there will be harmony on that and there will no ambiguity and duplication in system of governance.
In the meantime, an FTA Round Table is also scheduled for mid-November which will look at the labor issues in Bangladesh FTA has offered its support to both the EU and Bangladesh in facilitating dialogue on the outstanding issues with the hope of arriving to a positive result for all actors involved.